MCSP SOUTH PACIFIC EXPLORER TOUR

SEARCH TOUR

Guam, Palau, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga & Samoa

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Palau - boat trip through the Rock Islands. One of the crown jewels of Micronesia and a UNESCO protected region Samoa - Savai'i island exploration - waterfalls, caves, blowholes and rainforests Palau Rock Islands & Peleliu Island Excursion Vanuatu Yassur Volcano Excursion Solomon Islands - experience the diversity of the Pacific cultures

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (see note below, if applicable) - All pricing reflects twin-sharing, per-person pricing for the TOUR AND INTERNAL FLIGHTS ONLY; however, we can book flights from your home airport to join the tour for an added cost. Contact us for a no obligation quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Fri 08 Jun 2018Sun 01 Jul 2018 $9230 USD
Fri 15 Jun 2018Sun 08 Jul 2018 $9230 USD FULL: Wait-list Only
Fri 28 Sep 2018Sun 21 Oct 2018 $9230 USD
Fri 07 Jun 2019Sun 30 Jun 2019 $9230 USD

The above prices are subject to an additional $690 for taxes/fees levied on flights that occur as part of the tour. The internal airfares ARE included, but we list the taxes separately on your invoice as they are beyond our control and can change at any time.


Please Note: the 'Land Only' cost includes ALL internal flight costs. Be advised that the taxes on these flights (which we list separately) are rather high at approximately US$700.

Optional Single Supplement: $2500 USD (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $2500, if twin-sharing accommodation is unavailable.


Tour Overview


This is an itinerary like no other -- 100% unique! We explore an amazing array of islands in the South Pacific, including Palau, Samoa, Guam, Vanuatu, Tonga, and the Solomon Islands (as well as time in Manila). Showcasing the most traditional cultures and exotic tropical landscapes in Oceania, this 24-day South Pacific tour will astonish travellers with its diverse landscapes. During this adventure we will visit remote island communities and explore tropical landscapes. From soaring volcanic peaks to remote island villages, this tour will present unique encounters with native Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian peoples. Explore lush jungles, stroll beaches brushed by palm fronds, view smoking volcanoes, and visit remote shorelines as part of this South Pacific adventure.

Because many of the islands of the Western Pacific are geographically isolated, and due to their proximity to different landmasses, they are as different from one another as it is possible to be. Though many of these islands can be visited individually, this is a rare opportunity to be able to explore this entire region. We will stop at some of the more remote islands and appreciate the differences in landscape, culture, history and nature. Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean, and this tour will explore islands in all three sub-regions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

Regions visited: Oceania And South Pacific and Southeast Asia
Countries visited: Guam; Palau; Philippines; Solomon Islands; Fiji; Vanuatu; Tonga and Samoa


Testimonials


Very good excursions and local guides. Food was better than expected. Our tour leader Chris could not have been any better. Very happy about the trip.

The tour gave me knowledge about these islands in the South Pacific. I was pleased with everything. Martin is very knowledgeable. Displayed an interest in each country. All very courteous not only to the tour members but the local guides/drivers as well. Never gets upset. Always calm with a ready smile. An asset to your company.

Definitely one of the best trips I've taken in years. Would highly recommend it to anyone who wants adventure in paradise. Thanks for making this happen. Visiting the villages is always a highlight, and the children make these visits all the more special.The local guides were pleasant, knowledgeable, and very easy going. A special compliment goes out to our Fiji guide, who made everything run like clockwork. He and our Tour leader made a great team. I cant imagine anyone who is better suited for their job then our tour leader. He was organized, professional, and just a fun person to be around.

Great tour. Loved our tour leader Jonathan and would travel with him again. Had a great personality, friendly and smart. Definitely seemed to enjoy his job. He seems to have a vast knowledge of every island. His organizational skills were definitely excellent.

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Guam
Arrival in Guam (airport GUM).

Each South Pacific island group has its own history, culture, language, geography, and geology. That is the nature of such a far-flung region, where hundreds or thousands of miles separate one island from the next. On the other hand, the islands have many things in common. Their indigenous peoples are descended from ethnic groups who migrated here several millennia ago. Many of their traditions and customs are the same, but with local quirks that have developed over the eons. Nowhere are the local variations as evident as in the Polynesian languages!

Due to colonial neglect and historical isolation, the Pacific Islands, home to the world's most diverse range of indigenous cultures, continue to sustain many ancestral ways of life. Fewer than 6.5 million in all, the peoples of Oceania possess a vast repository of cultural traditions and ecological adaptations.

Oceania is a vast, arbitrarily defined expanse of the world where the Pacific Ocean -- rather than land borders -- connects the nations. Its diverse nations have some of the worlds most remote and culturally isolated villages. One of the most memorable aspects of our travels to the South Pacific will be the fascinating encounters we will have with the cultures and traditions of the people in this beautiful region. In this part of the world, ancient cultures are still very much alive and are accessible for visitors to discover.

** Some itinerary modifications may occur closer to the departure date due to flight routing and schedule changes. Access to most islands is restricted by flight schedules (sometimes just 1-2 flights per week). This may, of course, impact the itinerary. The order of islands visited may change, and the number of nights on each island may have to be adjusted; we may lose 1 night on one island and gain a night on the other.

Overnight in Tumon, Guam.

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 Guam: Island Touring
Guam is not only the largest island in Micronesia, but it is the largest and southernmost island in the Mariana Islands archipelago. The is a vibrant tropical paradise in the middle of the Pacific, and away from the beaches one finds a melting pot of Asian, European, Pacific Rim and American cultures.

First discovered by people from southeastern Indonesia around 2000 BC, most of what is known about pre-contact settlement comes from legends, archaeological evidence, missionary accounts, and observations from visiting scientists. With its strategic location in the Pacific Ocean, this territory of the United States has been claimed and conquered by many different nations throughout its long history. Ferdinand Magellan passed through here in 1521! Guam was then claimed for Spain in 1565, and then later colonized by the Spanish beginning in 1668 as the island was in perfect position to become a resting place for Spanish traders.

Our sightseeing today will focus on the central region of the island. We will visit the South Pacific Memorial Park; this was a main battlefield area during the pacific war, and the Memorial Park commemorates those killed in WWII.

In the afternoon we will continue to Hagatna, Guam's capital. Centrally located, this is a scenic village that offers a variety of cultural, historical, and religious sites. Spain ruled the islands for 333 years and Hagatna has many historic buildings dating from this era. One of the only spots above Hagatna with an unobstructed view of north-central Guam and the surrounding waters is Fort Apugan, known locally as Fort Santa Agueda. The fort is the sole survivor of Spanish era forts in Hagatna. Our sightseeing will include a visit to Latte Stone Park. Latte stone are pillars are believed to have provided the support to ancient Chamorro houses built as early as 500 AD.

We also visit the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, the location of several WWII battle sites and a museum. We'll also visit the new Guam Museum, opened in 2016.

Overnight in Tumon, Guam.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Guam: Island Touring - Palau
Today we will travel from the heart of Guam through the picturesque southern regions of the island. Being mostly rural, this is one of the most untouched and undeveloped areas on the island, and the Chamorro culture is well-preserved here.

We will start with a visit to the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, the location of several WWII battle sites and a museum. Overlooking Apra Harbour is Orote Point, the location of one of the first recorded sites of human settlement in the Mariana Islands. Archaeologists calculate that over 3,500 years ago, people used Orote Point for subsistence living. In 1944, Apaca Point was witness to the American liberation of Guam. Fort Soledad (Nuestra Senora de la Soledad), on the southern tip of Umatac, was one of the last forts built by the Spanish in support of the 19th century Galleon trade. The fort protected a trade route between the Philippines and Mexico, and from its cliff-top location there is a commanding view of the Bay.

We will enjoy many panorama views of the grassy hills, deep jungle ravines, and miles of coastline that make up the Territorial Seashore Park. Historical points are numerous and include ancient Chamorro village sites and Spanish ruins. Located at the south of the Pago River, Pago Bay was once home to a Spanish settlement, and is considered to be one of the most picturesque bays on Guam.

The 'Underwater Observatory' at Fish Eye Park is the only underwater observatory in Micronesia. Located in the center of the famous "Piti Bomb Hole", the observatory structure and pier provides a special habitat for fish and other marine life. A boardwalk that leads from the shore crosses a portion of the spectacular bay, and once at the observatory the 360-degree upper deck allows us to enjoy views of the ocean, the coral reefs, and the outer barrier reef. The lower deck takes us beneath the sea where we can view the ocean world and see Piti's amazing marine life and underwater coral gardens.

We later return to Tumon and then this evening we fly to Koror, Palau.

The Palau Islands are an archipelago composed of about 350 islands and atolls having an area of approximately 160 square miles. All of the islands except two small atolls to the north and the islands of Angaur and Peleliu to the southwest are enclosed within the barrier or fringing reef. These islands are located at a crossroads where the Pacific Ocean meets the Philippine Sea, creating one of the worlds' richest zones of tropical marine bio-diversity. Chosen by National Geographic Society as the first ‘Underwater Wonder of the World’ Palau was also featured on Discovery Channels "Living Edens" series as one of the worlds last living "Edens". This island group is home to one of the highest number of species not found anywhere else in the world. The main island of Babeldaob is the second largest landmass in Micronesia (after Guam) and is recognized as one of the largest undisturbed tropical rainforests in Micronesia.

Palau's early history is still largely veiled in mystery. Why, how or when people first arrived is unknown, but studies indicate that today's Palauans are distant relatives of the Malays of Indonesia, Melanesians of New Guinea and Polynesians. Today Palauans identify strongly with their traditional culture, and the most noticeable aspect of Palauan culture is the people's connection with the sea.

Overnight in Koror, Palau.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Palau: UNESCO Protected Rock Islands & Peleliu Island Excursion
Located to the east of the Philippines, the tiny island nation of Palau represents just a speck in the Pacific Ocean. With a population of just over 20,000, this is one of the least populated nations in the world. Having become an independent nation in 1994, Palau's recent status as a country does little to reflect its rich cultural history. Despite being discovered by the English in the late 18th century, there is evidence to suggest that indigenous inhabitants have been on the island for around 4,500 years.

Today we will enjoy a scenic boat trip and excursion to the historic island of Peleliu. Our boat journey will take us past the Rock Island Lagoon, recently added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. This is one of the crown jewels of Micronesia, and a true vista of serene and surreal beauty. Here one finds over 400 uninhabited limestone islands of volcanic origin. Many of them display unique 'mushroom-like' shapes in turquoise lagoons surrounded by coral reefs. The aesthetic beauty of the site is heightened by a complex reef system featuring over 385 coral species and different types of habitat. The site harbours the highest concentration of marine lakes anywhere, isolated bodies of seawater separated from the ocean by land barriers.

Our destination is Peleliu Island, located where the tide of the Philippine Sea meets the current of the Pacific Ocean, each flowing in the opposite direction. It is a place where the irresistible force of the sea meets the immovable mass of the reef, and the results are spectacular with countless species of fish. With the Japanese controlling Palau by World War II, Peleliu became an important military target for the United States. The Japanese had built a series of underground tunnels and fortifications, and they had tens of thousands of men stationed here. By the time the war was over, nearly 11,000 Japanese and 1,000 American soldiers had lost their lives in this area. Our tour of Peleliu Island will cover many important natural and historic sites, including several WWII remnants and the local War Memorial Museum.

We later return by boat to Koror.

Overnight in Koror.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5 Palau: Island Touring / Fly to Manila, Philippines
Today we will spend today exploring the island of Babeldaob, Palau's largest island, and often called the "Big Island". This is a truly mysterious place that appears physically impenetrable for the most part and shields enigmatic monoliths whose origin and purpose is unknown. The east coast has beautiful stretches of sandy beach, while the west coast has a largely mangrove-studded shoreline. Ancient stone footpaths connect many villages, there are no traffic lights, and resort hotels are a world away. Archaeological highlights include the Stone Faces (Badrulchau) of Ngerchelong, the ancient Stone Monoliths, and the mysterious terraced hillsides found in various locations around Babeldaob. We will also visit a traditional Bai (Men's meeting house).

This is the one of the largest islands in Micronesia. In the past each village had a men's 'meeting house' built on top of a raised stone platform. These houses were constructed from giant timbers reinforced with coconut fiber ropes, and assembled without nails in a timber frame design. The roofs are made by weaving together mangrove palm fronds. Bais were elaborately painted and decorated with carvings of traditional legends. There were two types of bais. The first is the Bai ra Rubak (or old men's bai) where traditionally no women were allowed. These were used exclusively for the meetings and customs of the older men of the village. The Bai ra Cheldebechel (or clubhouse bai) was used for younger men and was the place where the older men would teach the younger generation the legends of the village and fishing lore. Women were only allowed to visit the Bai ra Cheldebechel. Today we see one of the few remaining bais in Palau, which offers us a unique look at authentic Palau'an culture.

At some point during our time in Palau, we'll visit the Belau National Museum, the oldest museum in Micronesia. The indoor and outdoor exhibits detail Palau's history, and include information about the past possessors of the territory such as Germany, Japan, Spain and the USA. In the museum we will see exhibits from all eras of Palauan life, including artworks, photography, sculpture, storyboards and more, all tracing the history of the colonial occupation on the island.

We also hope to include the Etpison Museum, a private collection including a variety of displays. We will learn about the foreign influence on Palau, and will see displays ranging from local tools and artifacts to archeological sites and traditional canoes. The museum also has a large collection of antique maps and prints of Micronesia.

We later return to Koror before our evening flight to Manila, our connecting point for tomorrow's fight to the Solomon Islands.

Overnight in Manila, Philippines.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Manila: City Sightseeing - Fly to Honiara, Solomon Islands
The Spanish knew the city of Manila as the jewel of their Pacific Empire, and today Manila is a city that has to be experienced to be understood. Located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay, Manila lay at the heart of Spanish activity in the Far East during the 16th century. Once known as the 'Pearl of the Orient', the city went on to witness several Chinese insurrections, a British occupation and a Sepoy mutiny, a war against the colonial Spanish and some of the bitterest fighting of World War II.

As we explore the "Charms of Old Manila", we will drive through Roxas Boulevard to Rizal Park, named in honor of the country's national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. For people-watching there’s no better place than Rizal Park where, every day, locals can be seen jogging, picnicking, or simply hanging out with friends.

At the Walled City of Intramuros we visit the remnants of Spain's conquistadors. We will explore this 'living museum' - the oldest part of the city known as 'between the walls' – the Spanish era walled city. It was here that Miguel Lopez de Legazpi built a fort on the site of a ruined Islamic settlement, with walls 13 meters thick and 3km long. Within this protective enclave, the exclusive preserve of the Spanish ruling elite, were 15 churches and 6 monasteries. The imposing Roman Catholic Cathedral is here, and has been rebuilt countless times. A walk through this area gives us a sense of the true history of this area.

We will travel through the cobbled streets to the UNESCO protected San Agustin Church, the country's oldest stone church. Here we will view its wide collection of ecclesiastical icons, vestments and other religious articles. Across from here is Casa Manila, a reproduction of a 19th century house equipped with oriental and European décor, as well as Philippine antique furniture. Built by Imelda Marcos, this is a chance to see some stunning antique furniture and artwork. We continue to Fort Santiago, Manila's main line of defense against invaders from the sea. It is a stone fort guarding the entrance to the city from Manila Bay. It has been the site of many tragic moments in Philippine history. From Fort Santiago, we drive on to Manila's central district, Quiapo, often referred to as the heart of Manila with its market, pilgrimage church of the Black Nazarene, jeepney terminals and bazaars. We will also explore the city's bustling Chinatown, with its network of alleys and side streets. The Chinese cemetery is the only one of its kind in the world, where the mausoleums are as big and as elaborate as houses and where the fusion of eastern and Christian religions are very much in evidence.

Later this evening we transfer to the airport to connect with our overnight flight to Honiara, Solomon Islands, via a stop in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (in transit only). After a stop of about 4 hours in Port Moresby, we connect to Honiara, arriving at about midday tomorrow.

Overnight flight to Honiara.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Arrival in Honiara, Solomon Islands
Around midday we arrive into Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.

Just 9 degrees south of the equator, the Solomon Islands are comprised of 992 islands, of which 147 are inhabited. These island stretch 900 miles in a southeasterly direction from the Shortland Islands, on the border with Papua New Guinea, to the Santa Cruz Islands, which borders with Vanuatu. The archipelago covers an area of 461,000 sq km -- made up of deeply forested mountainous islands and low-lying coral atolls.

As part of the Melanesian group of islands that also includes Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Fiji, hunters and gatherers from Southeast Asia first settled the Solomon Islands. Seafarers followed later, and it is believed that early Papuan speaking settlers began arriving in the Solomon Islands around 30,000 BC. Austronesian speakers arrived in 4000 BC. Archaeological and linguistic evidence shows that people from Southeast Asia permanently settled the
Solomon Islands at this time.

Today, between 70 to 80 percent of the population live a subsistence way of life in their small villages, settlements and islands away from the main urban centers. The number of local languages listed for Solomon Islands is greater than 75. Communal, clan and family ties remain strong in these islands with the existence of the Wantok system. A key part of the Melanesian culture, Wantok means people from the same language groups who are blood relatives and part of the extended family support and assist one another. Traditional practices are still being followed, especially by those living in the interior of the country's larger islands. Off the beaten path, village life remains much as it has been for centuries.

This afternoon after our arrival we will commence with an orientation tour of Honiara. This will allow us to discover many points of scenic, cultural and historic interest about Honiara and Solomon Islands. The Honiara Central market is busy, colourful, and presents local produce and crafts. We will have a guided tour of the Parliament House, built for the people of Solomon Islands. With a commanding position, the US Peace War Memorial was constructed in 1992 for the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal. It provides an excellent view of Iron Bottom Sound and the surrounding mountainous regions of Honiara and Guadalcanal. The small National Museum accommodates the diverse cultural artifacts of the Solomon Islands.

Overnight in Honiara.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Solomon Islands: Full Day of Touring
Over our two full days on Guadalcanal, we will see and experience its many highlights and attractions. Stepping out from the usual path into the islands of the Solomons is a totally unique and richly rewarding experience. Without doubt, this is one of the few remaining, truly un-spoilt tourist destinations of the world. The following day description (and that of Day 10), should be seen as a guide only, as your Tour Leader and local guide/s will tailor your experience and possibly re-order the activites outlined below as conditions/variables dictate.

This is an island group of rainforests and volcanoes. There are over 900 volcanic islands in the Solomon Islands, and here we will discover the palms, ferns and truly exotic orchids spread across the islands. Certain regions in the Solomon Islands served as battlegrounds during the Second World War. Guadalcanal is known for its many WWII sites, and we will visit several during our day.

The islands are also home to many botanical gardens displaying a wide variety of plants, and we will be sure to visit one of these. A village tour will give us firsthand experience of an ideal Solomon Islands village setting as well as a look into the traditional daily living of Solomon Islanders. Here we will gain an appreciation of the unique cultures of the islands as we learn about traditional customs and practices.

Overnight in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Solomon Islands / Tulagi Island Excursion
Today we will enjoy a full day excursion to Tulagi Island in the Florida Islands group (also known as the Nggela Islands). This island group of the Solomon's sits immediately north of Honiara across the renowned Iron Bottom Sound. This will be a full day of discovery as we cruise through one of the few truly untouched areas of the South Pacific. Our boat trip takes us to Tulagi Island, the old capital of the Solomons.

The Florida group are made up of four large islands: Big Gela (or Nggela Sule), Small Gela (or Nggela Pile), Buena Vista Island, Sandfly Island as well as approximately 50 other surrounding smaller islands. The Japanese garrisoned Nggela Sule in April of 1942 in connection with their efforts to establish a seaplane base on neighboring Gavutu. Florida Island never became as famous as Guadalcanal, although it did serve as a small, very secondary base of operations for the US and Australian and New Zealand war effort in the Pacific. Following the Allied liberation of the island from the Japanese, it became the site of a US seaplane base. Tulagi (also known as Tulaghi), was the capital of the Solomon Islands Protectorate from 1896 to 1942, and is today the capital of the Central Province.

A visit here is a must visit for the true intrepid traveller, and all of our sightseeing is done on foot. This original capital of the Solomon Islands was severely ravaged during the Second World War, and Honiara became the new capital after the war. Tulagi is in the center and entrance to the Florida Islands. Here one finds small provincial government offices, the police station, post office, main port, market and a few restaurants. Our stop at this colonial capital will include a walking tour, where we experience the true pace of life on an undeveloped island.

In travel terms, these islands are still very much virgin territory, and our adventure today is an experience not to be missed.

Overnight in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Solomon Islands: Full Day of Touring
As per Day 8, our sightseeing activities in the Solomons will be somewhat free-form; among the highlighs covered (possibly some already covered on Day 8):

US Peace War Memorial
National Museum - small, but well-done
Vouza Memorial - A statue of a national hero captured by the Japanese, tied to a tree, bayonetted, but then escaped. Saved by Americans who gave him blood, he then gave the Americans information on the Japanese to help push them out.
Million Dollars Bay
Red Beach
US Navy landing spot
Japanese Field Hospital and Memorial
Parliament Tour - An excellent tour inside the buildings
Outdoor War Relics Museum

Overnight in Honiara.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Solomon Islands - Vanuatu: Island Touring
We have some well-deserved down-time this morning before our mid-afternoon flight to Vanuatu.

With a population of approximately 221,000, Vanuatu boasts 113 distinct languages and innumerable dialects. This makes Vanuatu one of the most culturally-diverse countries on earth. This amazing diversity is a result of thousands of years of sporadic immigration from many Pacific countries.

Over the millennia, natural boundaries; large open stretches of water, dense jungle and mountainous terrain, isolated many groups, even from the same ethnic origins, from each other. And isolation bred not just warfare, but quite different, sophisticated societies and political systems.

Overnight in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Vanuatu: Tanna Island / Yassur Volcano Excursion
Today we will enjoy a scenic adventure to one of the world's most accessible active volcanoes! Our Yasur Volcano exploration starts with a scenic one-hour flight to Tanna Island. This journey takes in the spectacular views of Port Vila Harbour, South Efate and Erromango with its beautiful coastline (weather-permitting). On the approach to White Grass Airport in Tanna you will have a great view of the magnificent landscape of Tanna Island.

Here we will be met by our friendly 4WD Safari staff and taken to a local resort for some refreshments. Our Volcano Tour begins with a 4WD journey across the island, passing local villages, dense native bush, stunning views and passing over volcanic ash plains as we approach Yasur Volcano.

Once we reach the summit it is a short 10-minute uphill walk to the rim of the crater, where we will experience the awesome power of the world's most accessible active volcano! This ancient volcano is conspicuously located in one of the most pristine, unspoiled corners of the globe.

The Island of Tanna is a natural paradise and a favorite destination for volcanologists and adventure travellers. In the local native dialect, Yasur means 'Old Man'. This volcano is 361 meters above sea level, and the crater itself is 300 meters wide and 100 meters deep. Visiting Mount Yasur is a 'once in a lifetime' experience, and your opportunity to watch nature at work.

Overnight in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 13 Santo Island Day Tour
Today we fly over to Espiritu Santo, named by De Quiros in 1606 when he was on his voyage of discovery in an attempt to find a mysterious southern island, which we now know as Australia.

Much of Santo remains little changed over the over the centuries, with many hundreds of hectares of near virgin jungle. During World War II Santo’s capital town of Luganville was established and was the site for over a 100,000 American troops. James Michener lived on Santo when he was inspired to write his classic 'Tales of the South Pacific.' Many of the buildings in the island’s only town, Luganville, are old Quonset huts, with fences of upright Marsden matting rusting away under dense decorative vines. Many local villages, some hidden in the unmarked jungle, still live traditional lifestyles preferring to maintain their traditional practices while slowly adopting modern conveniences such as solar power and mobile phones.

The beauty of Santo is unmatched for travellers. The newly constructed tar-sealed road running along the east coast of Santo offers travellers the ease of finding many of Santo’s best adventures just steps from the road. Jewel-like islands laying just a few hundred metres from coconut fringed beaches of powdery white sand at Champagne Beach. Amazing blue holes (cool fresh water pools) at Matevulu sit ready for a refreshing swim and have been a popular stop for visitors since the days when movie stars toured during WWII.

We'll drive the scenic east coast, enjoy a beach lunch, see the Matavulu Blue Hole, and visit the Leweton Cultural Village, before flying back to Port Vila, arriving about 17:00.

Overnight in Port Vila.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 14 Vanuatu: Island Touring
Today we tour the town of Port Vila, the capital and largest town of Vanuatu. We will see the Parliament House, the Cultural Centre (Museum), Hospital, Schools, French and British jailhouses etc. We will explore some of the most picturesque spots in town. Learn about the colonial years of French and British rule, and visit local handicraft and vegetable markets.

Most species of plants and animals native to the South Pacific originated in Southeast Asia and worked their way eastward across the Pacific, by natural distribution or in the company of humans. The number of native species diminishes the farther east one goes. Very few local plants or animals came from the Americas, the one notable exception being the sweet potato, which may have been brought back from South America by voyaging Polynesians.

We'll stop at the Secret Garden; the beautiful botanic gardens here help bring some of Vanuatu's island flora and its cultural uses to life. We will also visit the small Tanna Coffee factory. The Tanna Coffee Development Company was first established in 1982 in order to assist in the development of the newly independent South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. Though the coffee is grown on nearby Tanna Island, it is transported here for roasting and packaging.

We then will enjoy a pleasant walk through lush tropical rainforest to see the Cascade waterfalls. Here you may want to step under the falls or take a dip in the clear rock pools for a refreshing swim. Or, maybe just sit under the cool shade and enjoy the lush green setting. You will be able to enjoy the scenery from our lookout view on the way back from the waterfalls.

Overnight in Port Vila.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 15 Port Vila, Vanuatu - Nuku'alofa, Tonga
Early this afternoon we transfer to Port Vila Airport from where we fly to Tonga (via Nadi, Fiji), arriving just shortly after midnight.

The Kingdom of Tonga is a sovereign state and archipelago comprising 176 islands scattered in the southern Pacific Ocean. Of these islands only 52 of are inhabited. Tonga became known as the 'Friendly Islands' due to the friendly reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit here in 1773. This is one of the last absolute monarchies in the world where social rule is based upon a feudal system where the king disburses land and positions without recourse to any elected body. Tongatapu, a coral island surrounded by coral reefs, is Tonga's largest island with over two-thirds of the country's small population.

Similar to our touring in the Solomon's, our program here may be somewhat fluid and the order of actual sites may vary from the description. Your Tour Leader will be certain to advise what you might expect the day before.

Overnight in Nuku'alofa.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 16 Tonga: Tongatapu Island Touring
This is truly an eclectic country where ancient traditions sit alongside the latest offerings of modern life. Society in the Pacific's only remaining kingdom has remained more impervious to outside influences than other islands. Today will be spent touring the island of Tongatapu, and we will start by touring Nuku'alofa. Nuku'alofa is situated on the north coast of Tongatapu, and our time here provides us with a great opportunity to experience this unique culture.

A field to the west of the main wharf is the Pangai, where royal feasts, kava ceremonies, and parades are held. The Royal Palace overlooks the Pangai and is surrounded by towering Norfolk pines. During our touring we will be sure to see the Royal Tombs. King George I, King George II, Queen Salote, King Taufa'hau Tupou IV are buried at the center of the field.

Outside of the capital, at the village of Mu'a, we will stop at the monument marking Captain Cook's Landing Place. The great British explorer landed and rested under a large banyan tree here when he came ashore in 1777 to meet with reigning Tui Tonga.

One the most prominent sites on Tongatapu is the Ha'amonga Trilithon, located on the eastern tip of Tongatapu Island. This is the area where the eleventh Tongan King had his seat of power, and it is believed that Tu'i Tu’itatui built the structure in 1200 AD. The Ha'amonga 'a Maui has been scientifically interpreted as an early style sundial clock that recorded different seasonal changes. Nearby is Maka Fa'akinanga ('Leaning against the rock'). Made from the same stone as the Ha'amonga, the Maka Fa'akinanga is a large stone slab standing upright with markings on the front resembling an indentation of a large head, shoulders and back. Oral stories recount the belief that Tu'i Tu'itatui (eleventh Tu'i Tonga) often sat against the Maka Fa'akinanga and struck out with a staff at people so that they were kept at a safe distance for fear that they may make an assassination attempt.

The small fishing village of Nukuleka on the northeast coast is possibly the site of first human settlement in Tonga. In 2008, Canadian archaeologist Professor David V. Burley claimed that it was the "cradle of Polynesia". In 2007, Burley led an archeological team, and uncovered pieces of Lapita pottery; which are estimated to be about 2,900 years old. Burley then stated: "Tonga was the first group of islands in Polynesia to be settled by the Lapita People about 3,000 years ago, and Nukuleka was their first settlement in Tonga." This finding challenged claims made by Samoa which, in the words of a New Zealand journalist, "has advertised itself for decades as the 'cradle of Polynesia'".

The majestic blowholes of Pupu'a Puhi, located along the rugged coast near the village of Houma, provide a never ceasing display of the power of the sea. Here the power of the Pacific Ocean is forced through natural rock fissures to create instant skyscrapers of water up to 30-meters high. As the southerly winds blow into Tongatapu the sea is driven into the southern coastline and sea spray erupts into the air. As we proceed towards the village of Kolovai on the western tip of the island we will keep an eye out for the flying foxes in the treetops. Our last stop of the day will be at the Abel Tasman landing site.

Overnight in Nuku'alofa.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 17 Tonga: Touring & Atata Island Excursion
Today is Sunday in Tonga! A clause in Tonga's constitution establishes a Sabbath day on Sunday, during which no trade or professional or commercial undertakings are to be pursued. Although hotels can cater to their guests on the Sabbath, almost everything else comes to a screeching halt. Most stores are closed, airplanes don't fly, most taxis don't operate, and most restaurants other than those in the hotels don't open. Today Tongans by the thousands will go to church and then enjoy family feasts and a day of relaxation in true Polynesian style.

On this day, those who wish will have the chance to attend service this morning at the Centenary Church. Here we may be lucky to see members of the royal family, including Tupou VI, the King of Tonga. Tupou VI is the younger brother and successor of the late King George Tupou V. Tongan men may wear neckties to church, but tourists get by without as long as they are neatly dressed. Women should wear dresses that cover the shoulders and knees. It's not every day that you get to see a real-life king, but sometimes you can in Tonga. For maximum respect, keep your knees covered (both men and women).

Given that it is a Sunday, our schedule for today will remain flexible. A typical Sunday event for the many locals is to take the ferry over to one of the outer islands, so today we will enjoy an excursion to one of the offshore islands for lunch and some exploring on foot. Atata Island is one of the best local 'small island destinations'. Set around white coral sands, this island is less than an hour away. One can walk almost all of the way around the island, with its palm-covered picture postcard beaches. This island is truly 'untouched', with just one resort / restaurant, one local village, one school and two churches!

Overnight in Nuku'alofa.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 18 Tonga
Our visit to Tonga continues…

Overnight in Nuku'alofa.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 19 Tonga - Nadi, Fiji
We have the better part of the day to enjoy some well-deserved downtime before we fly to Fiji this afternoon in order to connect with our onward journey to Samoa.

Overnight in Nadi.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 20 Nadi, Fiji - Apia, Samoa: Island Touring
Today we fly to Samoa and begin our sightseeing upon arrival.

The entire country of Samoa serves as a cultural storehouse of fa'a Samoa, the traditional Samoan way of life. Most Samoans still live in villages featuring fales (oval houses), some of which have stood for centuries (though tin roofs have replaced thatch). The island of Savai'i is especially well-preserved, and today much of Apia on the island of Upolu looks like it did when Robert Louis Stevenson settled here in 1889.

Our touring today covers Mulinu'u, the sacred burial grounds of the chiefly families of Samoa; Parliament House, Independence Monument, Lands & Titles Court, German Monument (where the German flag was raised) and the landing site of the first Catholic Missionary to Samoa. A stop at the impressive Mulivai Cathedral in Apia to view exquisite stained glass windows and an architectural marriage of European & Traditional Samoan Designs followed by a visit at the Robert Louis Stevenson’s former home which is now a museum, a "must" visit of artifacts, books and settings around the time he was residing in Samoa.

Overnight in Apia, Samoa.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 21 Samoa: Savai'i Island Touring
Today will be spent exploring Savai'i, the largest island of Samoa. Savai'i is one of the largest of all Polynesian islands, and this great volcanic shield is also one of the least populated. Here we will find traditional villages with oval-shaped houses sitting alongside freshwater bathing pools fed by underground springs. Savaii is relatively undeveloped and regarded by many as the "real" Samoa.

For our sightseeing we will depart from our hotel early in the morning and head for Mulifanua wharf in order to connect with the morning ferry to Savai'i. The crossing takes about 90-minutes, and will provide us with some great views of the Samoan islands. Upon arrival we will be met at the wharf and proceed with our island touring. At Savaii's fresh produce market we can view the locally grown produce and handicrafts.

We later head back to the wharf for our return journey.

Overnight in Apia, Samoa.

Overnight in Apia, Samoa.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Lunch

Day 22 Samoa: Manono Island Touring
Our tour today will visit Manono Island, which offers an insight into Samoan culture and life. An hour's drive to the west and then a further 20-minutes by boat brings us to Manono Island. The boat leaves from Cape Lefatu, with views of the crater island of Apolima along the way. Once reaching Manono we will be greeted by our Samoan hosts for a brief lecture on Samoan customs and etiquette. We will have the chance to learn about locally grown products, as well as the various local uses of the coconut.

This island is completely enclosed by a reef, and the colours of the crystal clear water are simply stunning. Today there are only four villages on the island with a total population of 889. Electricity was only introduced here in 1995. This is the third largest island of Samoa, but has an area of only three-square kilometres and was in years gone by, the most important of the group of islands in a political sense, for it was here that the highest chiefs lived. In Manono there is a very Samoan atmosphere, no noise, no dogs, no vehicles, and the main thoroughfare is a footpath that follows the coast. We will enjoy a magnificent stroll viewing the lush beautiful gardens with cooling trade winds.

This is a real paradise for anyone looking for adventure, friendly people and an island that has hardly changed in the last 100 years. Life is very different than elsewhere. The men go to the coral reef spear-fishing every morning on their traditional canoes and come back only once they catch enough fish to feed the family.

Overnight in Apia, Samoa.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 23 Aleipata Districts & East Coast
We continue on a scenic drive via the Cross Island Road passing the Baha’i Temple, mountains and Rainforest until we reach the most Southern Point of the island. The South East coast of Upolu is a drive through villages until we arrive at the Tafatafa Beach where we will stop for a scrumptious BBQ and Umu Feast lunch with fresh local fruits in season.

Sopo’aga Falls and mini Botanical Gardens is our next stop where a demonstration of the
many uses of the coconut and coconut cream making is done. Le Mafa Pass (1700ft above sea level) has breathtaking views of the east and south coastlines. The scenic drive takes us through lush green forests, plantations, and traditional Samoan villages. Continuing on, we will stop at Falefa village with it’s colourful gardens, ideal for a stretch and photo stop

Overnight in Apia.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 24 Departure
Departure from Apia, Samoa (airport APW).

BON VOYAGE!

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Guam Hilton

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Tumon
Country: Guam

Situated on the beach overlooking scenic Tumon Bay the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa has an idyllic location on Guam,
... a ten-minute drive from Guam International Airport, three minutes from the tourist district and ten minutes from the capital of Agana.

Take in stunning views of Tumon Bay and Two Lovers Point from one of Guam’s only infinity pools. The Resopa Water Park features a whirlpool spa, waterslide, children’s pool, watersports pool and an exotic lagoon filled with tropical fish. Try out watersports and snorkeling at the private beach club or enjoy a lesson from a pro on one of five floodlit tennis courts. Stay fit at The Wellness Center with a full range of quality cardiovascular and strength equipment and a timetable of exercise classes or be pampered with a treatment at Spa Ayualam.

Savor a taste of the ocean at Fisherman’s Cove. Simply choose from the tempting seafood offering and the chef will cook it perfectly. The unique and fun dining experience has won the Guam Visitors’ Bureau award for ‘Most Outstanding Local Tourism Facility’. Sample the cuisines of the world at the international buffet theme nights at Islander Terrace or taste the tropics at Tree Bar with an exotic cocktail to enjoy while overlooking Tumon Bay.

With two wedding chapels, eight meeting rooms, business center and high-speed internet the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa hotel is the perfect beachfront location for a beautiful wedding or an important business meeting.

Read More.

Palasia Resort

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Koror
Country: Palau

Palasia Hotel, Palau provides a preferred location in the heart of Palau’s Capital City, Koror State. This First Class Deluxe
... with 7 floors and 3 basement levels, opened in the summer of August 24, 1998, located in the central business district of the State of Koror and situated in the heart of the island, this strategic location provides everyone easy accessibility to numerous and variety of restaurants, shopping centers, souvenir shops, open beaches and other public facilities on the island.

Read More.

Manila Hotel

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Manila
Country: Philippines

Defined by its history, elegance, and world-class service, The Manila Hotel maintains to be the ultimate choice of the most
... clientele. Over the years, The Manila Hotel continuously provides the best services and amenities for a truly memorable experience ...
Read More.

Hotel Rakiraki

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Nadi
Country: Fiji

The Tanoa Rakiraki Hotel is a truly cozy place to stay, offering you a relaxed pace, home-style cooking, and a
... Fiji holiday! In addition to the two olonial-style guesthouses, which are home to a bar and dining room, and an old-fashioned hall with five rooms to either side, the Tanoa Rakiraki Hotel offers 36 homey rooms with Air-conditioning, cable television, hair dryer, coffee / tea maker, ironing equipment.


Read More.

Poppy's on the Lagoon

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Port Vila
Country: Vanuatu

An award winning boutique resort with private beachfront location. Nestled amongst an oasis of tropical gardens, this peaceful resort is
... 15 minutes to town.
Read More.

Seaview Lodge

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Nuku'alofa
Country: Tonga

The Seaview Lodge and Restaurant has a New Owner and a New Management. The Swiss, German and Tongan Team is
... to operate friendly place where best hospitality and fine dining can be enjoyed. The Highlight is the new Seaview Lodge Restaurant with our new Chef and Kitchen.
Read More.

Sinalei Resort

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Apia
Country: Samoa

From the moment you enter the stunning, lush, naturally landscaped surroundings and step under the artisan-carved entrance way, you will
... you have discovered a sanctuary like no other. The famous Samoan generosity of spirit and hospitality is proudly displayed to create an environment you will never forget. Sinalei Reef Resort Samoa is a true paradise where the irresistible beauty of nature surrounds you.
Read More.


Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner or lunch daily (hotels and local restaurants). All accommodation, transport, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuity, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), departure taxes, domestic* and international air taxes (if applicable). Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

* Taxes and fuel surcharges on the flights that occur as part of the tour (CAD 932 / USD 690) are listed in addition to the tour price as these charges can change without notice. This amount does not include any taxes / fees that one must pay locally while on tour.

Seasonality and Weather

As this tour covers a large and diverse piece of geography, special attention has been paid to visiting all of the places covered at, or close to, the best time in terms of weather than one can typically expect. Overall, you can expect warm/hot, tropical conditions throughout. Though our intention is to avoid rainy periods, one can expect tropical showers at any time.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport is provided by private a/c coaches, the size of which will vary according to ultimate group size and location. Larger touring buses may be used in some locations such as Guam or Manila. Due to the more remote locations and limited infrastructure of most islands, we will have smaller vehicles of 16-25 seats, which may sometimes double as the local school bus, so don't expect plush touring coaches. Most inter-island flights will be operated by Air Pacific (Fiji Airways).

We have several boat excursions on this tour, which may require that you be able to step over gunwales into the boat, or sit thereon and swing your legs over.

Please note that many islands visited have very strict rules pertaining to land ownership and usage, such that it may not be possible for us to simply stop to stretch our legs, take photos, or, say, visit a village or beach on a whim. Doing so could invite problems pertaining to "trespassing" or exorbitant charges for simply taking a photograph.

Some itinerary modifications may occur closer to the departure date due to flight routing and schedule changes. Access to most islands is restricted by flight schedules (sometimes just 1-2 flights per week). This may, of course, impact the itinerary. The order of islands visited may change, and the number of nights on each island may have to be adjusted -- we may lose 1 night on one island and gain a night on the other, etc. Because access to these places is restrictive, this itinerary can suffer in terms of its overall pacing -- it may seem that we are in one place too long and the next place not long enough, or our journeys from place to place may seem convoluted (they likely will be). One might also observe that a lot of time is spent in airports and on planes, all necessary aspects of a trip like this. So sit back, relax, and appreciate an astonishing array of places where very few travellers ever set foot.

We rate this tour a "level 2," as, though it is not strenuous per se, this tour is ambitious, covering a huge area and involving many flights, some of which are long and possibly at inconvenient times. On the ground, activities are leisurely and not tremendously active; however, that said, the real consideration is the HEAT and humidity, which can sap your strength and cause fatigue.

Accommodation

Our accommodation styles and rating will vary quite widely on this tour; some hotel rooms are well-equipped and will likely include hairdryers, minibar fridge and TV. Other hotels on smaller and less developed islands will be clean and comfy, but may not provide the same amenities. All are air-conditioned. Some hotels provide complimentary purified drinking water or bottles of water. Some bathrooms have shower only. Many hotels have swimming pools.

A mandatory single supplement may apply to this tour if you select our share program and we are unable to pair you. Due to the high cost of single accommodation in the region, the mandatory supplement is 100% of the regular supplement.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout; local guides, drivers.

Group Size

14-16 plus Tour Leader